by Carol Dunn
LA VETA — We have a very curious problem at our farm. I think we have a demon in our apple tree. There is a big hole in the tree, and SOMETHING creepy is living in there.
We discovered the ghoulish thing while we were thinning out our abundant crop of apples. My daughter bumped into the tree trunk with a ladder and the tree unleashed the most demonic noise I have ever heard come out of a tree. As a matter of fact, it’s the ONLY noise I’ve ever heard come out of a tree.
The noise sounded like a cross between a zombie and a Tasmanian devil – hissy and squealy and kind of gasping for breath in four part harmony. And the noise just wouldn’t stop. We were half expecting a ragged old mummy to come crawling out any minute and put a curse on us.
Despite this ominous feeling of apple-doom, we kept working. Once in a while, when we weren’t looking at the hole, we heard a whooshing sound, and then the zombie-devil noise would start up again.
I guess you have figured out by now, we don’t scare easy. After all, I’ve written about more than a hundred things that could have caused us to drive a U-Haul away screaming into the sunset. But we stayed. And no demon in an apple tree was going to get the best of us. Not after everything else we have found to love about Huerfano County.
So our curiosity finally got the best of my daughter, and she climbed the ladder to peek into the hole. If something had grabbed her and pulled her inside the tree, it would not have surprised me, what with the freaky noises coming from that hole. I told her not to do it. What if it was a portal into a parallel dimension? What if this whole Huerfano life we’ve been living was actually just a Twilight Zone episode? But you know teenagers. The demon noises were not going to stop her.
What she found made my skin crawl. It was even more demonic than I expected. Those noises – the wheezing, the chuffing, the zombie sounds – they were all coming from a nest of baby flickers. Not booger flickers, but baby flickers – the birds.
Suddenly it all made sense. One time I threw a broom at a flicker that was pecking on our concrete siding. Now it was coming back to haunt me – and it was raising a whole new generation of flicker kids to peck our siding. It could only happen in Huerfano.